Every story takes a village…
By Sister Karen Zielinski, OSF
My sister, Sister Judy, just had two total knee replacements. She had her left knee replaced on Tuesday and then her right one a few days later, on Friday. After six days in the hospital, she was released to Rosary Care Center to recover and do rehab. In two weeks, she was released and returned to her home in South Bend, Indiana.
That is the bare bones version—and now the rest of the story.
She had been anticipating and planning for her new knees for a couple of years. Her work as a producer for NewGroup Media took her to different “shoots” with her colleagues. Her ministry included lots of walking and a good amount of travel. So she began by seeking out an orthopedic surgeon near Sylvania, our Motherhouse, with the plan to recuperate in Sylvania. After several doctor’s visits, both her primary care and her knee doctor, she made plans for surgery.
She spoke with her colleagues at work and scheduled her time off. She called the staff at Rosary Care Center, and scheduled her tentative days for rehab. She talked with neighbors, her landlord about taking care of her plants, turning down the heat in her apartment, and keeping her Sylvania Franciscan Sister/Counselor informed of the steps that were unfolding. She even brought me her little Beta fish, “Bo” to feed while she was in Ohio.
Dozens of health care professionals—surgeons, anesthesiologists, recovery room nurses, dietary staff, physical and occupational therapists, inhalation therapists, social workers, receptionists and pharmacists all played a part in the flow of her surgery.
Spiritually and emotionally, she felt blanketed in prayer and support. From the Sisters of St. Francis’ hotline, to the cards and calls and emails from lots of Sisters and friends, she was affirmed and encouraged to heal. She was tangibly shown she was not alone in this knee event. Other friends came bearing flowers and called or emailed her when she was further along her recovery.
Two South Bend friends picked her up in Sylvania and drove her home. Neighbors there bought groceries, and one friend treated her to a number of frozen, homemade meals. Another friend visited her the first weekend home. Once in Indiana, she met with a home nurse and more therapists.
Dozens of people made this surgery happen and happen successfully. Sister Judy is still recovering, and her prognosis seems excellent, thanks to all who played a part in the whole event. Everyone had a role to play, and each one was significant.
About ten years ago, I flew into LAX, Los Angeles International airport, to visit Judy when she worked there. That year, the airport had banners flying all around the parking lots and terminals, proclaiming, “Together, we’re the Best!”